BENTONVILLE -- Three candidates are vying for the District 7 seat on the Benton County Quorum Court in the Nov. 6 general election.
Joel Jones, the incumbent and a Republican, faces Joseph Bollinger, a Libertarian, and Matthew A. Kezhaya, a Democrat.
Justice of the Peace, District 7
Joseph Bollinger (L)
Residency: Three years in District 7.
Employment: Systems engineer with Tektrendz.
Education: Associate’s degree from Northwest Technical Institute.
Political Experience: None
Residency: Bella Vista and District 7 since 2004.
Employment: Senior product manager for Novista, a mobile workforce management firm.
Education: Bachelor of science degree in computer engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Political Experience: Four terms on Benton County Quorum Court.
Matthew A. Kezhaya
Residency: Bentonville and District 7 since 2014.
Employment: Lawyer with Pinnacle Law Group in Rogers.
Education: Law degree and bachelor of science degree in Organizational Management, both from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Political Experience: None.
Jones has said he is considering a change in residence that would take him outside the district, which includes eastern Bella Vista and the area southeast towards Bentonville. If he wins the election and moves, he would have to resign. The governor would fill the seat by appointment.
Justices of the peace serve two-year terms and are paid $230 for each Quorum Court and Committee of the Whole meeting and $144 for each meeting of a committee of which they are a member.
"I'm on the ballot, it's too late to find a new candidate, so I'm going to run," Jones said.
Jones said he has some unfinished business as a justice of the peace, pointing to the county's proposed $30 million courts facility. The county has adopted a building design and a location on Second Street in downtown Bentonville. The funding plan, which includes a temporary one-eighth-cent sales tax, is planned for a special election in March 2019.
"I want to see the courts project be successful," Jones said. "I want to see it through. We've been talking about the courts building for as long as I've been on the Quorum Court. We've made progress, and I'd like to be part of that."
Jones said he's satisfied with the process the county went through to develop the design and the funding plan. He said he will support the sales tax proposal in the March election.
Bollinger said he doesn't think the $30 million courts building proposal is right for the county. He said the proposed building is too large, and he doesn't support a tax increase to pay for it. He said the county should rely on its reserves and make budget cuts as needed to pay for any building project.
"At $30 million I know it can be done better," Bollinger said. "I think we can get an adequate building for less than half the cost."
Bollinger said he also objects to the county putting the funding plan to a vote in a special election.
"It seems very underhanded, like the county is trying to get it to an election where they know most people won't vote," he said. "If it's a good proposal, we should want to have the greatest number of people vote on it."
Kezhaya said, as a lawyer, he is familiar with the need for a new courts building. He said he has reservations about the sales tax funding plan.
"I don't like sales taxes, period," he said. "I think the sales taxes in Benton County are too high already. The last measure a government should be looking at is a sales tax increase. It primarily affects the people who can't afford it."
Kezhaya said he thinks the county has to do more to plan for growth and the changing nature of Benton County. He said as the urban areas grow, the services the county needs to offer will change from roads being a major issue to a focus on the courts and jail as operations that serve all residents.
NW News on 10/10/2018
Print Headline: Three candidates vie for Quorum Court District 7